Dreams are successions of images, ideas, emotions, and sensations that occur involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep. The content and purpose of dreams are not definitively understood, though they have been a topic of scientific speculation, as well as a subject of philosophical and religious interest, throughout recorded history. The scientific study of dreams is called oneirology.
Dreams mainly occur in the rapid-eye movement (REM) stage of sleep—when brain activity is high and resembles that of being awake. REM sleep is revealed by continuous movements of the eyes during sleep. At times, dreams may occur during other stages of sleep. However, these dreams tend to be much less vivid or memorable.
The length of a dream can vary; they may last for a few seconds, or approximately 20–30 minutes. People are more likely to remember the dream if they are awakened during the REM phase. The average person has three to five dreams per night, but some may have up to seven dreams in one night. The dreams tend to last longer as the night progresses. During a full eight-hour night sleep, most dreams occur in the typical two hours of REM.
In modern times, dreams have been seen as a connection to the unconscious mind.
My Puzzling Dream
I had this dream at least three years ago, but it is still pretty vivid in my mind. It was rather disturbing at the time, as dreams often are.
I was probably a young teenager. I'm going to assume I was at some sort of summer camp. A group, including me, got into a big row boat. Along with us was an adult female guide. I don't recall the ages of those around me, or anything about them at all. But across from me was a toddler, a little girl.
We drifted out over the water. Others were talking, pointing things out to one another toward land. I was silent, not a part of their conversation. For some reason I was staring at the little girl.
She was having fun, but could not contain herself. She had been sitting on a bench like the rest of us, but she raised up to the boat rim and she began to kind of bounce, as toddlers often do when they're supposed to be still or they get excited.
I remember feeling fear crawl up my throat. But I could not seem to speak. Everyone else was turned looking out over the water, even the adult supervising us.
In just an instant, the little girl fell backward. The water swallowed her small body up with a gulp. Just a soft sound and then ripples of water.
I screamed: "She fell over the edge! Help her! Help her!"
The adult turned around and looked at the empty spot where the young child had been sitting. She immediately stood and dove into the water.
My heart raced as she came up time and time again for breath, then went back down into the murky depths. After a time, she crawled back up into the boat, exhausted.
"What are you doing?" I yelled. "You've got to find her!"
She was crying and shaking her head in despair. "I can't see her," she said. "I just can't find her. She's gone."
"NOOO!" I wanted to jump in but she wouldn't let me. "You can't just leave her!"
In a very sad and somber mood, we rowed back to shore. I got out of the boat with the others, but stood looking out to sea.
Over and over, I saw her raise her little bottom up to the rim, then fall backwards. And the rippling water swallow her up. So easily. So quickly. With barely a sound.
For days, I walked around seeing her in my head. Falling backward. Left behind.
Does anyone want to venture what this dream could mean, if there are such things as meanings to dreams?